December 9, 2007

John Darwin. Everyone is talking about this story. How can you not? A man canoes off into the sea, never to be heard from again until he turns up, five years later, and walks into a London police station claiming to have amnesia. Tan and fit. Who can read this story and not wonder: how would I fake my own death?

Obviously, disappearing requires plausible circumstances. It helps to have a hobby that takes place out at sea. Sailing... canoeing... deep-sea diving... this all works well for faking a death because it makes sense. But in my case, no one would ever buy that I drifted off in a canoe. When would I ever be in a canoe? I would have to find something to disappear off in that people would believe. Like a taxi.

So let's say I stepped into a black taxi and drifted off into traffic. Never to be heard from again. One minute I'd be talking on my phone to my friend Sam, telling her I was running late for coffee, the next minute I'd be gone.

She'd wait half an hour. Then it might cross her mind that something was wrong. She'd try me again but when she got the voice mail, she'd give up and go to her yoga class. The following day, if she still hadn't heard anything, she'd assume I was working and not picking up. Then the day after that, she'd be fed up and stop calling.

If I were to disappear, when they found my mobile the messages wouldn't be voices of concern, such as: "Oh, I'm so worried about you. I hope you're OK." Chances are, it would be filled with messages more along the lines of: "Thanks for standing me up. Very nice."

Faking my own death would be easy. It would take a long time for anyone to notice I was missing. The only way people would know is because of deadlines. Not because anyone would miss me - they'd miss the copy. An editor would wonder where my piece was and then someone would have to come looking for me.

My absence would not leave a hole in someone's life; it would leave a hole in the magazine.

They'd do a search. I can hear it now: "She went missing in a taxi." The only trace would be a lip gloss that fell out of my bag and rolled onto the back seat.

At first people would be sad. But they'd recover. And it wouldn't take long before my friends began bitching about me. I give it 20 minutes. Everyone would get together to mourn but then someone would bring up how I always expected people to respond right away to e-mails I sent and then everyone would join in about how annoying that was.

In the meantime, I'd be free. But where would I go? Maybe the Covent Garden Hotel. That seems like a nice place to start over. I'd hide out there for a while under an assumed name until everyone had accepted my death and moved on. One week at the most.

Then what. It's not like I'd go to Rio. That sounds like a lot of work. I wouldn't go to Australia either - too many bugs. Most likely, I'd just go back to my flat. I'd make sure to stay home and never go out. No one would wonder where I was or what I was doing and the phone wouldn't ring. Which, now that I think about it, sounds a lot like my life now. John Darwin. Everyone is talking about this story. How can you not? A man canoes off into the sea, never to be heard from again until he turns up, five years later, and walks into a London police station claiming to have amnesia. Tan and fit. Who can read this story and not wonder: how would I fake my own death?

Obviously, disappearing requires plausible circumstances. It helps to have a hobby that takes place out at sea. Sailing... canoeing... deep-sea diving... this all works well for faking a death because it makes sense. But in my case, no one would ever buy that I drifted off in a canoe. When would I ever be in a canoe? I would have to find something to disappear off in that people would believe. Like a taxi.

So let's say I stepped into a black taxi and drifted off into traffic. Never to be heard from again. One minute I'd be talking on my phone to my friend Sam, telling her I was running late for coffee, the next minute I'd be gone.

She'd wait half an hour. Then it might cross her mind that something was wrong. She'd try me again but when she got the voice mail, she'd give up and go to her yoga class. The following day, if she still hadn't heard anything, she'd assume I was working and not picking up. Then the day after that, she'd be fed up and stop calling.

If I were to disappear, when they found my mobile the messages wouldn't be voices of concern, such as: "Oh, I'm so worried about you. I hope you're OK." Chances are, it would be filled with messages more along the lines of: "Thanks for standing me up. Very nice."

Faking my own death would be easy. It would take a long time for anyone to notice I was missing. The only way people would know is because of deadlines. Not because anyone would miss me - they'd miss the copy. An editor would wonder where my piece was and then someone would have to come looking for me.

My absence would not leave a hole in someone's life; it would leave a hole in the magazine.

They'd do a search. I can hear it now: "She went missing in a taxi." The only trace would be a lip gloss that fell out of my bag and rolled onto the back seat.

At first people would be sad. But they'd recover. And it wouldn't take long before my friends began bitching about me. I give it 20 minutes. Everyone would get together to mourn but then someone would bring up how I always expected people to respond right away to e-mails I sent and then everyone would join in about how annoying that was.

In the meantime, I'd be free. But where would I go? Maybe the Covent Garden Hotel. That seems like a nice place to start over. I'd hide out there for a while under an assumed name until everyone had accepted my death and moved on. One week at the most.

Then what. It's not like I'd go to Rio. That sounds like a lot of work. I wouldn't go to Australia either - too many bugs. Most likely, I'd just go back to my flat. I'd make sure to stay home and never go out. No one would wonder where I was or what I was doing and the phone wouldn't ring. Which, now that I think about it, sounds a lot like my life now.